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National Lottery Puts The Gold Back Into Britiain

Sep 7, 2008
The National Lottery has been a success for many years for both national heritage projects and in making members of the public millionaires. One of the most recent success stories of late though has been the performance of the British Olympic team, Team GB as they became known, due to the influx of funding received for sports through the National Lottery funding scheme, UK Sport.

The British Olympic sports team used to have to fit training in around a normal daily life of working a nine to five. This part time training is what led to Britain's reputation of being gold medal flunkies. Back in the 1990s, the former Prime Minister John Major introduced lottery funding to British sports so athletes could concentrate on their talents. The Government also pledged to increase funding available for these so called Podium Level athletes. This funding was aimed to encourage new athletic talent by providing better facilities and training as well to improve the chances of winning gold medals in the Olympics.

The 2004 Sydney Olympics was a major disappointment for the British Cycling team, and the British team generally. This was all about to change though in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics being held in China. Each Podium Level athlete received 75,000 GBP a year, to enable them to concentrate on training and be able to ditch the day job. Of that money, 25,000 GBP goes to the athlete as a wage and the rest of the money is to pay for coaching, training facilities and medical specialists. All in all, 235 million GBP is provided through UK Sport funding, for all levels of training. The Government provide 60 per cent of this figure and the remaining 40 per cent comes from the funding from the revenue of our scratch cards and Saturday night rollover ticket purchases.

This influx proved to be hugely successful, and was most noticeable in the performance of Team GB's cycling team. The dedication to the training and attention to the smallest details for performance enhancement led to a whole host of gold medals being bagged. Some say that the funding for Olympic sports is an extraordinary amount of money to be provided compared to the benefits, and is disproportionate when considering other ways the money could be used.

The defence for the expenditure lies in the promotion of national pride and a sense of achievement. It is argued that having a sports team that goes for gold and succeeds develops a sense of belonging within communities and across the nation. This national pride is a unifying experience and inspires younger generations to dedicate their time to sports, which in turn keeps them off the streets, away from drugs and alcohol and keeps them healthy too.

Is it really too big a price to pay to keep the youth of today inspired, and provide facilities for them to spend time in. The funding isn't just about Olympic medals, it is also about the wellbeing of the country's children and how this can improve our nation as a whole. UK Sports provides facilities for tennis, badminton, archery and swimming to name but a few and provides coaching too. This has such a beneficial affect where it matters most, in the inner cities and poor areas. There are now facilities for the children and young adults, and schemes for those who would not ordinarily be able to afford to take part. There is also a goal, a reason to work hard. So next time you buy a lottery ticket and hope to bag the jackpot, remember that you are contributing to the pot of gold that could well change somebody's life.
About the Author
Dominic Donaldson is an expert in the lottery industry.
Find out more about the National Lottery and how the funds raised for benefit sports in Britain at National Lottery.
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